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Measuring your waist can help track your progress.
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A slim, trim midsection looks good and indicates good health, while excess belly fat is linked to serious conditions including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and high cholesterol. Targeting one specific area for fat loss is not possible, so trimming your waistline requires losing fat from your entire body through diet and exercise. Since overall fat loss includes belly fat, a skinnier waist can become your best accessory.
Sweat off the Pounds
Cardiovascular exercise makes you sweat, raises your heart rate, burns calories and promotes weight loss. The American Council on Exercise recommends doing about one hour of moderate cardio on most days, stating that incorporating high-intensity intervals on one or two days can effectively reduce fat, including belly fat. To do this, speed up to a one-minute, vigorous cardio pace, then slow down to a moderate pace for a two-minute recovery. Alternate the intensities for 15 to 20 minutes. Cardio can include jogging, riding a bike, walking briskly or using a rowing or elliptical machine.
Stimulate Muscle Tissue
By preserving and increasing muscle tissue, you can reduce body fat, including dreaded belly fat. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and uses more calories than fat even when you're resting. More muscle tissue equals more calories burned. ACE recommends doing two to three nonconsecutive strength-training sessions a week. It suggests working your large muscles for optimal muscle stimulation and caloric burn. Include exercises, such as pushups, lat pull-downs, bent-over rows, pull-ups, lunges, bench presses and squats.
Strengthen Your Core
Although core exercises won't reduce belly fat, they can strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, alleviate lower back pain and improve your posture and athletic performance. In addition to traditional crunches, bicycle crunches and reverse crunches, include exercises such as the front and side planks during which you hold your body as straight as a plank while either facing the ground or facing sideways. During these exercises it's essential to keep your back straight and to draw your belly button to your spine. This works your transverse abdominis, a deep-lying abdominal muscle that's responsible for properly aligning and stabilizing your body, which is beneficial during most activities.
For Your Consideration
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends losing weight gradually at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. This requires a deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories. In addition to burning calories through exercise, eating fewer calories can contribute to this deficit. Consuming smaller portions, and limiting sugar, salt and saturated and trans fats can make a difference. Fill up on nutritious fruits, veggies, whole grains, reduced-fat dairy and lean protein. Also, before attempting to lose weight, consult your doctor to ensure that your planned weight-loss regimen is safe for your physical condition.